Never Ask What You Should Measure

September 13, 2016 Comments Off on Never Ask What You Should Measure

“What should I measure?” is the worst question you can ask.

It shows you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve or what you plan to do with the data.

If you don’t know what to measure, then you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve.

If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, then what’s the point in measuring anything?

Better questions begin with “how?” or “why?”

“How can I measure if more activity is increasing customer retention rate?”
“How can I measure if the community is increasing the number of people that sign up to our course?”
“How can I measure if members enjoy talking about products?”

These questions give you a starting point to work from.

These questions open the door to your assumptions, hypotheses, correlation and causality.

The answers might refute assumptions, challenge hypotheses, help you test correlation, and prove causality. These questions check if the relationship between the work you’re doing and the outcome you’re trying to achieve actually exist.

The ‘why’ of measuring

Of course, if you don’t know what you will do with the data, then what’s the point in collecting it? You’re just a wax pellet in a broken thermometer.

This is a question of reallocating your resources. If something is working you might spend more time on it. But this more time has to be at the expense of something else. You need to setup the decision tree before you collect the data. Or, to simplify, you need to know what you will do with the data before you collect it.

For example, if you find that members get 20% more satisfaction and value out of sharing product information than any other type of discussion, you might create 30% more of these discussions and 30% less of other types of discussions.

Never ask what to measure, focus on how to measure and why you will measure. What are you trying to achieve and what will you do with this information?

P.S. Two Podcasts & 1 Talk

Two podcasts I enjoyed participating in recently.

The first with Michael Britt of the terrific Psych Files podcast. We went deep into some of the psychology behind today’s most successful communities.

The second with Jeff Cobb of the Leading Learning Podcast. We spoke about the some of the fundamentals of communities.

P.S. I’m speaking at the Social Travel Summit in Scotland next week. If you work in travel, consider coming down (or up).

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